Archive for the 'Tanglewood Jazz Festival' Category

November 18th 2010
The Jazz Session #218: Tanglewood Jazz Festival Sampler

Posted under Bands & Podcast & Tanglewood Jazz Festival & Violinists & Vocalists

A collection of short interviews recorded at the 2009 Tanglewood Jazz Festival in Lenox, MA. Featuring Regina Carter, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Nnenna Freelon and more. Learn more at

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February 4th 2010
The Jazz Session #140: Ben Powell

Posted under Podcast & Tanglewood Jazz Festival & Violinists

Violinist Ben Powell made his festival debut this summer at the 2009 Tanglewood Jazz Festival, where this interview was recorded. Powell was raised in Cheltenham, England, the son of a cellist and a violin teacher. He released the album Light in 2008. In this interview, Powell talks about his musical upbringing; how a chance meeting with an American conductor led to a Berklee scholarship; and why he’s chosen to focus on music from the early days of jazz. Learn more at

If you’d like to buy this album, you can support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:

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January 11th 2010
The Jazz Session #133: Michael Kaeshammer

Posted under Pianists & Podcast & Tanglewood Jazz Festival & Vocalists

Pianist and vocalist Michael Kaeshammer has spent more than a decade making music that’s both fun and smart. He draws on everything from James P. Johnson and Fats Waller to contemporary pop music on his new album, Lovelight (Alert Music, 2009). In this interview, recorded at the 2009 Tanglewood Jazz Festival, Kaeshammer talks about the nature of showmanship; how he came to love the early stride piano masters; and why New Orleans has become an important source of inspiration for his music. Learn more at

If you’d like to buy this album, you can support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below.

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January 4th 2010
The Jazz Session #131: Chris Potter

Posted under Podcast & Saxophonists & Tanglewood Jazz Festival

Saxophonist Chris Potter’s new album, Ultrahang (ArtistShare, 2009), is an exploration of groove and melody. In this interview, recorded before Potter’s performance with Dave Holland at the 2009 Tanglewood Jazz Festival, Potter talks about how a middle-class kid in Columbia, SC, ended up liking Chicago blues; why he looks first to please himself with the music he makes; and how rhythm breaks down barriers with an audience. Learn more at

EVENT: Chris Potter’s Underground (Adam Rogers – guitar, Craig Taborn – Fender Rhodes and Nate Smith – drums) will be at the Village Vanguard this week from Jan. 5-10. More information is available at

If you’d like to buy this album, you can support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:


November 27th 2009
The Jazz Session #115: Paquito D’Rivera

Posted under Clarinetists & Podcast & Saxophonists & Tanglewood Jazz Festival


Paquito D’Rivera is equally at home in the jazz and classical worlds, a fact he showcased during his performance at the 2009 Tanglewood Jazz Festival. In this interview, D’Rivera talks about several of the pieces he performed that night: “Conversations With Cachao” and “The Panamericana Suite.” He also discusses “Fiddle Dreams,” a rare commission from the Library of Congress; and why he thinks the jazz and classical worlds can learn from one another. The music in this program is taken from his album Jazz Clazz (Termidor Music, 2009). Learn more at

If you’d like to buy the album, you can support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:

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November 25th 2009
The Jazz Session #114: Edmar Castaneda

Posted under Harpists & Podcast & Tanglewood Jazz Festival


Harpist Edmar Castaneda combines folkloric music from his native Colombia with jazz and other latin influences on his new album, Entre Cuerdas (ArtistShare, 2009). In this interview, Castaneda talks about his discovery of jazz as a teenager; his first attempts to sit in at descarga jam session … on the harp; and how he ended up with what is probably the only harp-trombone-percussion trio in the world. Learn more at

If you’d like to buy the album, you can support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:

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November 23rd 2009
The Jazz Session #113: Benny Reid

Posted under Podcast & Saxophonists & Tanglewood Jazz Festival


On his second album, Escaping Shadows (Concord, 2009), saxophonist Benny Reid continues to explore the musical path first laid down by Pat Metheny. In this interview, recorded just after Reid’s performance at the 2009 Tanglewood Jazz Festival, Reid talks about the influence of Metheny; why he chooses to compose everything from the melodies to the bass lines of his tunes; and how he navigates both the artistic and business sides of music. Learn more at

If you’d like to buy the album, you can support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:

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November 9th 2009
The Jazz Session #107: Kat Edmonson

Posted under Podcast & Tanglewood Jazz Festival & Vocalists


Kat Edmonson is making a name for herself as both a smart interpreter of popular songs (both old and new) and as a musician who puts her values into practice in her art. Edmonson’s debut CD, Take To The Sky (Convivium Records, 2009) features creative reworkings of tunes by Carol King, The Cure and The Cardigans, alongside (un)expected versions of Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Henry Mancini. In this interview, Edmonson talks about her years of apprenticeship in Austin, TX; how she’s navigating the line between jazz and pop music; and how she turned a quotation from Gandhi into a hit YouTube video. NOTE: Edmonson is making two rare East Coast appearances this week: at Sculler’s in Boston on Tuesday (11/10) and at The Jazz Standard in New York on Wednesday (11/11). Learn more at

If you’d like to buy this album, you can help support The Jazz Session by purchasing it via the link below:


September 6th 2009
Welcome Tanglewood Jazz Fest fans!

Posted under Site Updates & Tanglewood Jazz Festival

Thanks for visiting The Jazz Session! I recorded interviews at Tanglewood with:

  • Nnenna Freelon
  • Harolyn Blackwell
  • Mike Garson
  • Kat Edmonson
  • Michael Kaeshammer
  • Benny Reid
  • Regina Carter
  • Paquito D’Rivera
  • Chris Potter
  • Vanguard Jazz Orchestra: Douglas Purviance, John Mosca, Dick Oatts
  • Ben Powell

Those interview will be available in the weeks ahead. I’ve recently interviewed several players who were at Tanglewood this weekend, including:

  • John Ellis (played on Sunday with Kat Edmonson)
  • Kurt Elling (sang on Saturday on Radio Deluxe)
  • Dan Loomis (played Friday night with Benny Reid, and is heard in this interview with his band The Wee Trio)

You can also read reviews by my colleague Greg Haymes at his excellent site, I met Greg this weekend and he’s a great guy who’s passionate about the music. Read his reviews:

I also recorded interviews and wrote reviews of the last year’s jazz festival (2008). Those are archived here.

You’ll also find many other interviews here with jazz musicians from several generations, including established masters such as Sonny Rollins, Chico Hamilton, Steve Kuhn and Eberhard Weber. There are also interviews with musicians who’ve been making a mark during the past decade or two, including Donny McCaslin, Arturo O’Farrill, and Terence Blanchard. And you’ll hear from the next generation of musicians — folks whose names you’ll be hearing for years to come, such as Jo Lawry, Christine Jensen and Miles Okazaki.

Visit the Show Archive for all the past episodes of the show. And come back often! (Or subscribe for free using the links at the left.)

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May 28th 2009
TJS teams up with the Tanglewood Jazz Festival

Posted under Jazz News & Site Updates & Tanglewood Jazz Festival

You may remember that last year I recorded several interviews at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival in my hometown of Lenox, MA: Eddie Daniels, Jo Lawry and Spencer Day. This year I’m going back in a much bigger way. Here’s the press release that the Tanglewood Jazz Festival organizers put out today:

Tanglewood Jazz Festival and The Jazz Session Partner

For the first time, the Tanglewood Jazz Festival welcomes Jason Crane and The Jazz Session to the Jazz Shop Tent where Jason will conduct live interviews with artists, ticket holders and others that will be taped for broadcast on his popular interview program (

What’s more, The Jazz Session just announced a new partnership with Allabout that will feature the broadcasts on its home page. is the leading and longest running jazz music website, attracting both enthusiasts and industry professionals while reaching nearly one million unique visitors per month.

“Jason Crane and I have worked together for several years and closely aligning our two properties makes perfect sense as we move forward,” said Allaboutjazz founder and publisher, Michael Ricci. “AAJ already publishes weekly interviews and including The Jazz Session on our roster will raise the entertainment value at the website and further add to our already impressive coverage of jazz.”

Crane said “on The Jazz Session, we focus on the music and the stories behind the music and we let the musicians do most of the talking.” Crane has taped interviews for later broadcast at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival in the past, but this is the first time he will have a dedicated spot in the Jazz Shop Tent and the public is invited to listen in.

“I’m thrilled to be returning to the Tanglewood Jazz Festival,” said Crane. “This is a top-notch festival in one of the most beautiful settings on the East Coast. It’s a very intimate festival, too, which is perfect for getting to know — and interact with — the artists.”

The Jazz Shop Tent is located near the Hawthorne Tent where the Jazz Café artists perform. Jason will be there throughout the day conducting interviews and there will be a small seating area for people to observe.

“I’m really looking forward to having The Jazz Session with us throughout the weekend,” said Dawn Singh, Senior Project Coordinator of the jazz festival. “Jason is a real professional, he’s great to work with, has enormous expertise and is well regarded by the musicians. It’s an excellent partnership all the way around.”

The Tanglewood Jazz Festival kicks off on Friday, September 4, at 6:30 with alto saxophonist, Benny Reid, followed at 8:00 by “An Evening with Paquito d’Rivera.” For more info, go to

For tickets and information, visit the Tanglewood Web site. And here’s the link to my coverage of last year’s festival.

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September 8th 2008
Expanded Tanglewood Jazz Fest coverage at All About Jazz

Posted under Jazz Writing & Tanglewood Jazz Festival

An expanded version of my coverage of the 2008 Tannglewood Jazz Festival is now available at All About Jazz.

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August 31st 2008
2008 Tanglewood Jazz Festival — Day 3

Posted under Tanglewood Jazz Festival

The Tanglewood Jazz Festival made it through two days of sporadic rain to end with one of the most beautiful days of the summer — and some of the most powerful music in recent memory.

Spencer Day

spencer.jpgSinger/songwriter/pianist Spencer Day opened the afternoon in the Jazz Cafe, following up on his Day 2 performance with Marian McPartland. He quickly won over the crowd with intimate performances of mostly original material. He also covered a Depeche Mode tune toward the end of the set — and you never would have guessed if you didn’t already know. After the show, I sat down with Spencer for an interview. Look for it on an upcoming episode of The Jazz Session.

Eddie Daniels

eddie.jpgDespite losing drummer Joe LaBarbera to a broken left hand less than 48 hours before the gig, clarinetist and saxophonist Eddie Daniels still managed to put on a perfect show for a summer afternoon. Last-minute replacement Steve Schaeffer fit right in with the rest of the group, and Eddie Daniels proved to be as adept at communicating with the crowd as he is at playing his instruments. From the interesting biography file: pianist Tom Ranier has a day job. He’s the assistant musical director on Dancing With The Stars. Look for an interview with Eddie Daniels on an upcoming episode of The Jazz Session.

Marc O’Connor

mark.jpgViolinist Mark O’Connor has covered a lot of musical ground in his career, from fiddle music to symphonies and everything in between. He performed at Tanglewood with his “Hot Swing” band, including guest vocalist Jane Monheit. For me, the standout musician in the ensemble was guitarist Frank Vignola, who can play more musically at ridiculous tempos than just about anyone I’ve heard. Vignola had the crowd in the palm of his hand for every solo, and Monheit was a hit, too.

Alex Brown

Pianist Alex Brown is currently a member of Paquito D’Rivera’s band, and you can hear some of his boss’s fire in the interplay between Brown and the members of his trio — particularly drummer Eric Doob. Brown’s trio played the evening set at the Jazz Cafe and were definite crowd pleasers.

Terence Blanchard

terence.jpgThree years ago, nearly to the day, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The storm and its aftermath were, to me, our country’s absolute lowest point during my lifetime. I always knew we’d start wars and bomb people in distant places, but the idea that we’d let a city drown right here at home was almost too much to comprehend. Spike Lee’s 2006 documentary “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts” was a powerful artistic statement about the storm and the human failures that led to the flooding of New Orleans. The film was made even more gripping by the haunting music of trumpeter Terence Blanchard, who composed the soundtrack.

Blanchard decided that the soundtrack wasn’t enough, and so he and the members of his band created the album A Tale Of God’s Will: Requiem For Katrina (Blue Note, 2007). The final performance of the festival was a rare opportunity to hear this music played by the Blanchard quintet and the 40-piece Tanglewood Jazz Orchestra. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe the majesty and sadness of this music. Suffice it to say that it was a concert few in the audience are likely ever to forget.

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August 31st 2008
2008 Tanglewood Jazz Festival — Day 2

Posted under Tanglewood Jazz Festival

The rain came a few times, but all in all it was a lovely afternoon and evening in the Berkshires for the second day of the Tanglewood Jazz Festival.

Kate McGarry

iflessismore.jpgI certainly won’t pretend to be objective here — I love Kate McGarry’s music, and have ever since I first heard her. Her set at the Jazz Cafe was a master class in taste, musicality and sensitivity. She sang several selections from her new album, If Less Is More, Nothing Is Everything (Palmetto, 2008), including a great version of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin’.” She was accompanied throughout by her husband, Keith Ganz, on acoustic guitar, and drummer Clarence Penn. Penn played a percussion kit rather than a full drum set, and he was as tasteful an accompanist and soloist as anyone could want. Full of energy and fun, too.

Marian McPartland

bg_pjazz_summer.jpgMarian McPartland is the beloved host of Piano Jazz on NPR, the longest-running performance program on public radio. She’s celebrating her 90th birthday this year and still going strong. Yesterday a sold-out crowd gathered in Ozawa Hall and on the hill to watch a taping of her show. She played two 45-minute sets with an intermission in between. The first set featured pianist Mulgrew Miller, who’s appeared on more than 400 recordings as a leader or sideman. Toward the end of the set, they did a standout duet version of the Thad Jones composition “A Child Is Born.” I think the birds even stopped chirping to listen. After the set, McPartland announced the intermission, saying, “We’re going in the back to … I don’t know … smoke pot or something.” The crowd roared. The second set featured pianist and vocalist Spencer Day, who charmed the audience with his compositions, including a love song about New Jersey. He and Marian performed “Born To Be Blue” together. Then Nnenna Freelon came out to sing with McPartland. For me, the highlight here was Stevie Wonder’s arresting “All In Love Is Fair,” which McPartland requested and Freelon agreed to sing after a “prayer to the gods of lyrics, that they’ll download the words in the proper order.” Mulgrew Miller came back toward the end for some trio work with Freelon and McPartland, and the crowd ended the show by singing “Happy Birthday” to McPartland.

Jason Palmer

palmer.jpgTrumpeter Jason Palmer accompanied Grace Kelly at the 2007 Tanglewood Jazz Festival, and he was a crowd favorite. This year, he got his own time slot at the Jazz Cafe. Palmer performed with a quintet of young players, including his wife, vocalist Colleen Bryant Palmer. The set had some highlights — I particularly enjoyed their versions of “Come Sunday” and Abbey Lincoln’s “When Malindy Sings.” Bryant Palmer has a deep voice that seems well-suited to gospel or maybe classical lieder, and it worked well in those slow, stately tunes. I thought it was less effective in the uptempo numbers like “I Must Have That Man” and “Jump For Joy.” Jason Palmer is a technically gifted trumpet player, and I look forward to hearing more from him as his individuality emerges.

Sadly, I had to leave early, and thus missed the sets by Donal Fox and Diane Reeves. I did hear Fox’s first tune, which sounded wonderful. Fox is a regular at Tanglewood in a variety of settings, and the crowd welcomed him as a hometown favorite.

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August 30th 2008
2008 Tanglewood Jazz Festival — Day 1

Posted under Tanglewood Jazz Festival

I spent the day today in my hometown of Lenox, MA, at the 2008 Tanglewood Jazz Festival. Any day that combines my favorite place and my favorite music is a good day, and today was a good day.


Tanglewood is the summer home of the Boston Symphony, and it’s also home to things like an annual James Taylor concert, an annual recording of A Prairie Home Companion, and the jazz festival. The setting is idyllic — the whole place is nestled in the Berkshire Mountains between Lenox and Stockbridge. The festival is held in Ozawa Hall (named after famed conductor Seiji Ozawa), with additional performances in the “Jazz Cafe” — a tent up the hill from the hall. People also sit on the lawn between the two venues, and the entire back wall of Ozawa Hall opens up for the evening performances to give the lawn folks a view of the show.

There were really only two small issues today — bugs and rain. It was quite humid, and the mosquitoes and gnats were out in full force during the early evening. Then it rained later on. Still, the crowd was happy and into the music, and I’d have to say the opening day was a big success.

Eddie Daniels

eddie.jpgI started out by interviewing clarinetist and saxophonist Eddie Daniels, who plays on Sunday at 2 p.m. While we were recording the interview — which will be on an upcoming edition of The Jazz Session — Eddie got a call from his pianist, Tom Rainier. Tom was calling to say that drummer Joe LaBarbera had just fallen off his bicycle and broken his left hand, and thus couldn’t play their gig in less than 48 hours. Eddie suggested some names and asked Tom to start calling around. “You can leave this in the show,” Eddie said. “This is what it’s like to be bandleader.” (On a personal note: Here’s wishing Joe a speedy recovery!)

Jo Lawry

jo.jpgLater in the afternoon, I stopped over at the VIP reception site and listened to a rehearsal by Australian vocalist Jo Lawry. I was completely knocked out. She has an incredibly pure voice with faultless intonation, and the band featured some top-notch players, including guitarist Keith Ganz, whose name will be familiar if you’re a fan of his wife, singer Kate McGarry. (Kate was on The Jazz Session #33.) Kate was there as well, and she told me that she and Jo Lawry have become good friends and collaborators. I caught part of Jo’s set at the VIP reception and sat down for an interview with her after the set. Listen for it on an upcoming show.

Aaron Parks

I had to leave Jo Lawry’s show to MC a show in the Jazz Cafe by pianist Aaron Parks, who was a guest on The Jazz Session #38. Aaron was joined by most of the line-up from his new album, Invisible Cinema: Matt Penman on bass, Mike Moreno on guitar, and Kendrick Scott on drums in place of Eric Harland, who plays on the record. (Kendrick was on The Jazz Session #25.) Aaron and the band sounded great, and the crowd was appreciative.

Edmar Castaneda & The Great Joe Locke Hunt

edmar.jpgAfter the first few numbers of Aaron’s set, I checked my cell phone and saw several missed calls from vibraphonist Joe Locke, who was performing later in the evening with harpist Edmar Casteneda. I called Joe and learned that he was (a) lost and (b) stuck in traffic and (c) unable to reach the band and (d) needing some help to prepare the vibes. I ran down to Ozawa Hall where Edmar was doing his soundcheck. As I walked in, they were wondering where Joe was. “He’s right here,” I said, holding up my cell phone. We got Joe some directions, got the vibes mostly prepared, and Joe arrived in time for the end of the soundcheck. What’s more, he and Edmar and the band had just flown in from Israel the night before — and Joe had spent all 11 hours of the flight in the bathroom with food poisoning. You sure couldn’t tell at the gig, though. They absolutely rocked the house. Do not pass up any chance to check out Edmar Casteneda.

Eliane Elias

I spent some time after Edmar’s set chatting with David and Carol, a lovely couple from Baltimore who came up for the festival. David is a physical therapist who works primarily with musicians, which sounds fascinating. In fact, he asks them to bring their instruments to his office so he can observe their playing and figure out what to treat. (And all that free music isn’t bad, either!)

eliane.jpgPianist and vocalist Eliane Elias played a fun set split between a tribute to pianist Bill Evans and selections from the world of Brazilian bossa nova. Bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Adam Nussbaum were perfect bandmates, and the communication between Eliane and Adam was something to see. And hear, for that matter.

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